When I first heard Antony Hegarty, I have to admit, I wasn't a fan. He was featured on a couple of Lou Reed releases, first on the 2003 remake of "Perfect Day" included on The Raven, then he turned up again on Reed's 2004 release Animal Serenade singing the Velvet Underground's"Candy Says." Initially I wondered why Lou chose to muck up hisclassics by inviting some dude with a strange, otherworldly voice tosing on them.
Shortly thereafter, in 2005, I came across I Am A Bird Now, the second album by Antony & the Johnsons,and found myself transfixed by the band's haunting and unusual sound. Irealized Antony was the guy singing on those Lou Reed tracks, which Iwent back to and re-listened to after discovering that voice belongedto a hulking, six-foot something, transgendered British transplant.Turns out that Lou Reed is probably a better judge of talent than I am."He's a great guy, absurdly talented," Reed told The New York Times Magazine."It's these parts he can come up with, these ways of double tracking,these really unusual harmonies. . . I could listen to Antony all day.''Check out these clips for "You Are My Sister" and "Hope There'sSomeone," two stunning tracks from I Am A Bird Now. The album features guest spots from Reed, Devendra Banhart, Rufus Wainwright, and Boy George, but Antony is the real star.
Sincethen, I was lucky enough to see Antony & the Johnsons perform aninspired show at the Vista Theatre in Los Angeles in the fall of 2005.The band went on to win the prestigious British Mercury Prize for bestalbum in 2005. Antony has also made some high-profile guestappearances. He's recorded with Bjork, Boy George, Bryan Ferry, and Hercules & Love Affair, performed with Reed on his live revival of Berlin, interpreted "If It Be Your Will" in the 2006 documentary Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man, and Bob Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" on the I'm Not There soundtrack. Check video of the former and audio of the latter below.
In late 2008, Antony & the Johnsons released the five-song Another World EP, which was followed earlier this year by the band's third album, The Crying Light.As usual, Antony & the Johnson have accompanied their majesticsounds with stunning visuals. Check out the clip for "Epilepsy Is Dancing."
Antony is also featured on Dark Was The Night,the recently released and latest installment in the Red HotOrganization's compilations benefiting AIDS research. On thatalbum--which includes a whole slew of great artists from the Arcade Fire to Yo La Tengo--Antony performs a cover of Dylan's "I Was Young When I Left Home" accompanied by Bryce Dessner of the National,who co-produced the set with his brother and band mate, Aaron. Checkout the track below and pick up or download the album. It's for a goodcause and features some great music by some of the best new artistsaround. But before you do, I'm wondering what you think of Antony. Ishe one of the most original voices on the current pop landscape or justanother overrated critics' darling?